First UN aid trucks cross into northwest Syria through new border gate

First UN aid trucks cross into northwest Syria through new border gate
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A total of 11 UN trucks passed from the newly opened Bab al Salam crossing into rebel-held areas

A UN convoy of 11 trucks carrying humanitarian assistance have passed through the Bab al-Salam crossing into northwestern Syria from Turkey, as the UN launched a $397 million appeal to help nearly

5 million survivors of last week’s devastating earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria who have received very little assistance because of deep divisions exacerbated by the country’s 12-year war.

The passage marked the first time a UN convoy has used the crossing to deliver aid since its closure in 2020.

Another 26 inter-agency trucks went through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, until now the only entry point for UN humanitarian aid to directly reach people in opposition-held northwestern Syria.

Countries such as Russia, Iran and the UAE, which have good relations with the Syrian government, started sending relief supplies to the government-controlled regions immediately after the earthquake.

But many Syrians have been outraged at the lack of aid in rebel-held areas.

The UN and the Syrian government agreed on Monday to reopen the two border crossings for an initial period of three months.

The U.N. has only been allowed to deliver aid to the northwest Idlib area through a single crossing at Bab Al-Hawa -- at Syrian ally Russia’s insistence. Since the quake, the U.N. says 84 trucks have gone through Bab Al-Hawa.

Another re-opened border gate, Al Rai, is also on the Turkish border. The UN said that the doors will remain open for three months in the first place.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “lifesaving aid has not been getting in at the speed and scale needed.” and announced a $397 million appeal

Guterres said the devastation from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ravaged southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on Feb. 6 “is one of the worst in recent memory,” and the $397 million will provide “desperately needed, life-saving relief for nearly 5 million Syrians — including shelter, health care, food and protection” for three months.